TYCAT serves to promote the teaching and study of English in the two-year college, to advance the theories and practices of teaching English in the two-year college, to provide a state-wide voice for the two-year college in postsecondary education, and to focus on quality instruction in the area of English. Recognizing the unique institutional character of the two-year college, open to all students, TYCAT is further committed to student diversity in culture, age, background, ability and goals, and the critical role of literacy required in a democratic society.

Our purpose

  • To identify and articulate the best theories, practices, and pedagogy in teaching English in the two-year college;

  • To establish multiple channels for the communication of these theories, practices, and pedagogies and for discussion and effective change by the members of TYCAT;

  • To influence the future of English studies in Tennessee.



Joel Henderson, Chair

Ann Nicodemi, Program Coordinator

Buck Weiss, Entertainment Coordinator


TYCAT Membership is extended to all who teach English in Tennessee's community college system and to those with an interest in our profession. No annual membership dues are collected, and all are encouraged to attend the yearly TYCAT conference.



2005, Jackson, Mississippi 

At the 2005 conference of the Two-Year College English Association—Southeast (TYCA-SE), the idea of TYCAT was conceived, inspired by other state organizations such as TYCAM (Two-Year College English Association-Mississippi) and devoted to the mission of establishing the first official association of two-year college English teachers in Tennessee. TYCAT was designed to follow the longstanding TYCA-SE tradition but also to design conferences that were fun, informative, collegial and practical, where both pedagogy and pragmatism figured into the presentations, panels and roundtables. A committee of representatives from a majority of two-year colleges across the state developed bylaws for the organization, looking to TYCA-SE and TYCAM bylaws for guidance, and it planned TYCAT’s first annual conference. It built this conference through institutional donations, publisher support, and a generous gift from TYCAM. 


2005, Dickson, Tennessee 

“Tennessee Connections,” TYCAT’s inaugural conference, was held at the state-of-the-art Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN, and it generated much excitement with attendance of 55 part-time and full-time instructors from across the state. The conference ran from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon, with concurrent sessions on each day, keynote speaker Ovid Vickers from East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi, during the Saturday luncheon, and a Friday night laser light show that stunned and amazed all who attended. 


2006-2009, Dickson, Tennessee 

After its inaugural conference, TYCAT was off to a great start, with conferences in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, hosting such writers as Edward Francisco, Steven Womack, and Maggie Barbieri, and enjoying both local and well-known entertainment at its Friday night dinners. As conference attendance grew, instructors from across the state shared best practices from all ends of the discipline: literature, composition, developmental writing, creative writing, and writing centers. In both formal presentation settings and open-discussion roundtable sessions, instructors learned from one another sound ideas that they could employ in their classrooms when they returned home. In an effort to include as many Tennessee instructors as possible, in 2006 TYCAT began awarding adjunct scholarships to offset conference expenses for part-time instructors. Participants enjoyed good food, lively conversation, and TYCAT-embossed gifts, including ink pens, notebooks, and jump drives. 


2010, Dickson, Tennessee 

In 2010, TYCAT celebrated its 5th Annual Conference! Appalachian ballad singer Dr. Katie Hoffman was the keynote speaker/presenter on Friday night, and conference participants’ presentations were especially insightful and helpful to all who attended. An expanded conference format allowed for additional presentations by panels and individuals. As a special commemorative keepsake, insulated lunchboxes bearing the TYCAT 5th Anniversary logo were distributed. 


2011-2012, Dickson, Tennessee 

At the sixth annual TYCAT conference, writer and poet Robert Morgan, Kappa Alpha Professor of English at Cornell University and author of novels such as Gap Creek and This Rock, was the keynote speaker. Mr. Morgan signed books as well as conducted a special presentation entitled “Writing and the Living Voice” in a Saturday afternoon session, just before launching his new book tour. The seventh annual conference hosted Pulitzer Prize-nominated Professor of Biology at Sewanee: the University of the South, Dr. David Haskell, who read from his bestselling book The Forest Unseen. Haskell followed his luncheon presentation with a concurrent session entitled “Opening the Senses: Writing From Nature.” The eighth annual conference, in 2013, featured a conference theme, “In Search of Authenticity,” for the first time. Poet and literary critic Dr. Wyatt Prunty spoke at the Saturday luncheon and read from his poetry. Afterwards, he signed books and presided over a concurrent session entitled “How Poems Work.” 2014’s speaker was short-story author George Singleton, and the conference theme was “Choose Your Weapon.” In 2011, the Friday night dinner at the Greystone Golf Club was followed by music from a cavalcade of Nashville-based singer/songwriters, and 2012’s Friday evening gala featured a dinner theater presentation of the hit musical “9 to 5” in the Gaslight Theater. In 2013, lively bluegrass family-band, The Rigneys, entertained TYCAT dinner-goers, and 2014’s party offered a dinner buffet in the Renaissance Center’s Gaslight Theater with entertainment from the Nashville State Community College Jazz Ensemble. TYCAT giveaways included a golf umbrella, insulated drinkware, Nalgene boles, and fleece blankets. 


February 2016, TYCA-SE, Knoxville, Tennessee 

Though technically 2015 marked the 10-year anniversary of TYCAT, conference planners elected to conserve resources by foregoing the group’s usual October gathering in favor of a larger celebration in the World’s Fair Sunsphere at the annual TYCA-SE gathering hosted by Chattanooga State Community College and Pellissippi State Community College. The birthday party was a tremendous hit with beautiful nighttime views of Knoxville, delicious food, cool jazz from the Keith Brown Trio, and a moonshine still. To commemorate the occasion, attendees were sent home with engraved mason jars. 


2016-2019, Gallatin, Tennessee 

TYCAT began its second decade of collegiality and professional development by introducing a few changes to the usual mix. Since 2016, the venue has been the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities Building at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, and the session format has shifted to include both concurrent sessions and TEDTalks-style presentations in a black box theater. However, much of what has defined the TYCAT conference remains: an engaging guest speaker (Bev Fatherree, Mary Miller, Beth Ann Fennelly, Jessica Hindman), innovative presentations, fellowship, the Friday night party, live entertainment (Bluegrass Ablaze, Harlan Pease), and cool giveaways. 


Many thanks to the TYCAT membership for repeatedly choosing Tennessee’s premier two-year college English association to be a part of their professional journey. We’re excited to welcome you back to Gallatin for TYCAT 2019!